Put it this way: Cal State Northridge's best defensive effort Saturday might came from the fans who shouted "DEE-FENSE" over and over.
The Matadors certainly were not happy with their effort in a 90-80 loss to Drake in the annual ESPN BracketBusters game at The Matadome.
Coach Bobby Braswell was blunt: "Our defense was awful. We didn't dictate, we didn't disrupt, we didn't do the things we needed to do. "I'm glad we could accommodate Drake. They came down here and had a scrimmage tonight. That's what it felt like."
The proof was that Drake (13-16) shot 53 percent from the field and 52 percent from 3-point country.
"The effort was there offensively," Lenny Daniel said, "but the defense was non-existent. They did what they wanted to. It was like target practice on the 3-point line."
The Matadors (10-17) didn't do badly in shooting 48 percent from the field -- their highest in five games -- and scored enough points that would have won seven other games this season.
It didn't matter what if CSUN tried its man-to-man or matchup zone defense. Drake got open looks throughout the game and made the most of their opportunities. Josh Young scored 20 points and Adam Templeton -- who knew the Matadors from his time at UC Irvine -- scored 16 points to lead five Bulldogs in double figures. Only the press seemed to work.
"We should be embarrassed," Daniel said.
Daniel led CSUN with 22 points, giving him two consecutive 20-point efforts. His point total was two fewer than his career high (against Washington), and his eight field goals were one fewer than his output against the Huskies. But he was one who fouled out, as did Raymond Cody, who scored 12 points.
It was Cody's fifth foul that Braswell said gave back the momentum to Drake. CSUN had just cut a 13-point deficit to five, 84-79, with 2 minutes, three seconds to play. But on the ensuing Drake possession, Cody fouled Ryan Wedel, and Wedel made two free throws -- the Matadors had amassed 10 fouls in the half seven minutes earlier --to put the Bulldogs back up by seven.
CSUN took an early 20-12 lead, and Braswell thought that at that point, his team decided to engage Drake in a shootout.
"We had offense on the brain, not defense," he said.
If there was one positive from this game, it was that UC Santa Barbara, the Matadors' next opponent, plays
a similar style of basketball. The Matadors can watch tape of this game and prepare for Wednesday's game at UCSB's Thunderdome.
Northridge Notes: CSUN is 1-4 in ESPN BracketBusters games ... Drake is 6-1. ... Drake now is 6-4 against the Big West Conference in its current form ... Northridge is 1-4 against the Missouri Valley Conference ... The Matadors are the 15th team that Drake has faced this season to have made a postseason tournament last season. ... Head coach Bobby Braswell used his 14th different starting lineup of the season ... It most closely resembled the lineup used Jan. 2 at Pacific, with Therin Taylor replacing Kevin Menner and joined by Mark Hill, Raymond Cody, Lenny Daniel and Tony Osunsanmi. ... Drake came into the game fourth in the nation with 9.8 turnovers a game ... Against CSUN, the Bulldogs committed 14.